A PIL has been filed in Supreme Court seeking directions to Union Government for collection of samples and testing of all asymptomatic persons in cities or district affected with Coronavirus using pooling methods for samples to increase number of tests conducted.
The petition also seeks direction to speed up process of testing either through provision of mobile testing facilities door to door sample collection in order to ensure widespread accessibility of testing facilities and to make data available online of tests collected. Areas covered for testing can be segregated in two categories:- Symptomatic and asymptomatic having necessary details as areas covered, number of persons tested, whether the person tested was symptomatic or asymptomatic etc.
The Petition filed by Prakhar Dixit and Siddharth Kumar Singh refers to the statement of health minister which stated that WHO has declared this outbreak as a “public health emergency of International Concern” and raised level of global risk to “very high” on 28.02.2020. WHO has asked countries to remain prepared and India started its preparations from 17.01.2020. The Petition further refers to many articles published in various news reports and states that the source of knowledge of facts of the present case has been obtained by the Petitioners through media, newspaper reports and reportable precedents of this Hon’ble Court.
Petitioner states that some of the people being represented in the present PIL may not be aware of their legal rights being infringed and may not have the economic means to approach this Hon’ble court. Supreme Court is empowered under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, to pass any order or decree as is necessary for doing complete justice for any cause or matter pending before it.
The Petition emphasises the fact “the Court is the watchword of the Constitution of India which enshrines the Right to Life under Article 21 and also encompasses the Right to Safety and Safe Environment under the same article. Furthermore, the Directive Principles of the State under Article 47 of the Constitution imbibes the Duty of the State to improve public health.”
The symptoms exhibited by persons who have contracted COVID-19 are rudimental such as cold, cough, fever, headache; which may go undetected without adequate screening and other preventive measures especially when the said disease is known to spread through person-to-person contact and the virus is known to survive for a number of hours on surfaces as well.
Supreme Court in the matter of State of Punjab & Ors. v. Mohinder Singh Chawla., (1997) 2 SCC 83 held that “‘Right to Health’ is integral to right to life. Government has constitutional obligation to provide the health facilities.“
Petition submits that this court may intervene in this present situation and safeguard the rights and interests of the citizens and persons Boni Judicis Est Judiciumsine Dilatione Mandare Executioni.
-India Legal Bureau